Using the concept of epistemic injustice and cultural humility for understanding why and how social work curricular might be decolonized

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The notion of decolonizing the curriculum is currently gaining momentum in Higher Education Institutions (HEI) across the world and in the United Kingdom (UK). Fuelled by the movements #RhodesMustFall, ‘Why is my curriculum White?’, and critical incidents such as the killing of George Floyd and the #BlackLivesMatter protests, campaigners for decolonizing the curriculum have all questioned the omission of other perspectives from dominant Eurocentric White curricula at universities around the world, including social work education. This paper reports the findings of a qualitative study that involved 20 in-depth interviews with social work academics, social work students and practice educators (field instructors) in an English HEI social work department about their perspective on decolonizing the curriculum in social work education. The concepts of epistemic injustice and cultural humility were used to examine the data. Findings suggest that social work education is not immune to the centering of a Eurocentric curriculum and White middle-class values and needs to change to embrace other epistemology. The paper concludes by arguing that the concepts of epistemic injustices and cultural humility are especially relevant for understanding why and how social work curricula might be decolonized.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Work Education
Early online date5 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jan 2024


  • Decolonising the curriculum
  • cultural humility
  • decolonisation
  • epistemic injustice
  • social work
  • yarning

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